Housing delays ‘very alarming’

A MOYLE councillor says it is “very alarming” that new Housing Executive properties are not being built in Ballycastle because of difficulties regarding the capacity of wastewater treatment works in the town.

Cara McShane (Sinn Fein) was speaking after Housing Executive official Frank O’Connor told a meeting with Moyle Council that Water Service and Planning Service are saying to “hold back” on new buildings until the wastewater situation is sorted out.

Cllr McShane said the wastewater saga in Ballycastle has “dragged on” for several years and she said it time central government took action.

She said the town was being “held to ransom” by the situation which she branded “absurd”.

Meanwhile, Trevor Haslett, Interim Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Water, in a letter to Moyle Council said they are doing everything they can to advance the Ballycastle situation.

Mr Haslett said: “Northern Ireland Water has been working at upgrading the Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW) for Ballycastle for a number of years. The most economically suitable land required for the upgrade was identified as being adjacent to the existing WwtW and an attempt to purchase this land was made.

“This approach to purchase was unsuccessful and we proceeded towards compulsory purchase under legal powers assigned to Ireland Water and the Department for Regional Development (DRD) under the Water and Sewage Service (NI) Order 2006, (vesting of lands).

“The land vesting progressed to a stage where Northern Ireland Water needed to secure planning permission.

“Planning Permission has been sought and the process is at an advanced stage with all statutory stakeholders having replied. Planning Service are to make a decision which Northern Ireland Water cannot pre-empt, but Planning Service are likely to progress the application to be presented to Moyle DC for their decision. If successful the vesting decision can then be progressed.

“Following these formal decisions there is the procurement process which involves selection of a contractor following advertisement in the European Journal and ensuring funding is available. I can assure you that for Northern Ireland Water is making every effort to progress this very important strategic project,” said Mr Haslett.